Luxury real-estate experts McGuigan Pepin will be celebrating the family business’s15th anniversary in December 2008. Started in Montreal by Joan and Brian, two ambitious Royal Lepage realtors, the firm has been trusted by buyers and owners since 1994. In fact, the company is now an obligatory reference in this very select field, a fact that has attracted new associates, starting with the couple’s own son Timothy, and long time Westmount resident Reggie Robbins! If you include Joan’s mother in the family picture, that’s three generations of McGuigans and Pepins working in luxury real estate!
Joan and Brian both had strong experience in sophisticated neighborhoods. Right from the start, they aimed for the ˝superior˝ niche. McGuigan Pepin Inc. is involved in a variety of transactions: high-perched downtown penthouses, luxurious properties in Westmount and Outremont, single-family residences in NDG and Montreal West, trendy condos on the Plateau, and transactions with buyers investing in ˝hot˝ neighborhoods. By meeting the demands of its national and international clients, the business has managed to earn its reputation of excellence. How? By providing innovative marketing, personalized services and knowledge.
With its proprietary databases and its powerful network of affiliates, McGuigan Pepin is constantly finding buyers for Montreal’s top properties. The company has accumulated an impressive track record and developed a wide range of services. Since I wanted to learn more, I visited their office, near Westmount Park, in a flowery and chic Montreal neighbourhood.
On the eve of your 15th anniversary, what makes you the most proud?
Joan : I think we have lots of things to be proud of but most of all in 14 years; we managed to build our own brand, the well recognized yellow flag. Today, it’s not just about Joan, Brian or Tim anymore; it’s the McGuigan Pepin signature.
Brian : Our results are proof. Our clients have access to sound evaluations, specific advice, a powerful network, market knowledge, and the meticulous attention to a transaction’s detail our team is known for.
Joan : The trust we have earned! That’s what our reputation is about, and it’s not an easy thing to win and maintain. The comments of our satisfied customers are the best recommendations we can get.
You also provide customized networking, information, evaluation, and follow-up services. Are these necessary when building customer relationships based on trust?
Joan : Absolutely. We are there for our clients, before, during and after the sale. Customer satisfaction is what matters.
Tim : It means being available. Immediately. And finding relevant information on a transaction, like having access to a reference network, a high-performance website, useful lists or exclusive affiliations. This business is not about selling, it’s about building a relationship with someone.
Has pursuing your careers within a family structure changed your values or your work?
Joan :Of course it hasn’t changed our values but it has changed the way we work. Being independent allows us to customize our work to individual needs. That also gave us the opportunity to choose our partners and to build our team around our values. Many clients call us back 20 years later to tell us how much they love the house we found them.
Brian :The success of our business is about long-term satisfaction.
Joan :And for our values, they haven’t changed a bit. Our credo is simple : Treat others with respect, and be proud of the work you do well for clients. We’re also trying to implement a more eco-friendly approach in our marketing and office procedures.
Reggie :Most real estate transactions can be very complicated and call for a lot of responsibility and know how. I chose McGuigan Pepin because of their vast experience and knowledge, confident my training would be excellent. Marianne and I were attracted to this family business by the nurturing atmosphere and spirit of cooperation in the team approach.
Why do you invest so much in your affiliate network?
Joan :To remain competitive! With an independent company like ours, it makes us stand out from the big franchisers. Besides all the local advertising we do invest heavily in international marketing. And we also spend time and money on our network of affiliates for example Luxury Real Estate, Unique Homes and Canada’s Most Referred Realtors. We will be in Philadelphia in October attending the LuxuryRealEstate.com conference. It’s all about developing a good referral network.
Brian :Actually, conventions are where we keep up with market trends and polish up our knowledge of the trade. You get to mix with the best realtors in the world, people who work hard and succeed. This helps us to remain on the cutting edge.
What is the best time of the year to put your house up for sale?
Tim :In Montreal, that would be between September and April. Fall and early spring are the most active seasons, with a lull during the holidays. The majority of houses are sold during April and May. So actually winter is the best time to put your house on the market and September and October the second best time.
Do you provide some type of post-buying follow-up to your clients?
Joan : Yes we do. First of all we usually attend all the signings with our clients and check with them later after they move-in. Following that we regularly keep in touch either by mail, email, telephone and newsletters.
Brian :Building with your clients on the long term, that’s a commitment to loyalty!
What are the Montreal market’s value-added perspectives in the midterm? Joan :We’ve had 11 years of solid growth since 1997. Recently politics and the economy have impacted the real estate market. The good news is that every change in business and in life brings with it both challenges and opportunities.
Brian :Owning a property is still a solid investment, and, in particular, Montreal continues to be the best Canadian big city value.